Colossians 1:18-20


A. Paul was concerned about making clear the relationship of Christ with His people.

1. Sometimes his emphasis was on Christ's people─His church─as His body. At other times Paul's emphasis was on Christ as the Head or Lord of His church. The latter emphasis is true of our text.
2. "He is the head of the body, the church." This simple but profound text has three down-to-earth meanings for us.


Christ's people must understand this, subscribe to it, and glory in it. His interests are supreme; His cause comes first; His will is primary. To the world the church is a convenient group of respectable people to be used, when the occasion arises, to serve the interests of the world. But the church is to serve only the interests, purposes, and will of Christ to put Him first.

A. When in the church we put our own interests ahead of the interests of Christ, we dishonor Him as Head.

1. The question we need to ask ourselves is not "How will this affect me?" but "What will be the result for Christ's cause? Will this promote or injure? Will this serve His best interests or defeat them?"

B. When in the church we put human sentiment ahead of the interests of Christ, we dishonor Him as Head.

1. Sometimes we conduct certain types of services that have little to do with the gospel but make a powerful appeal to sentiment.

a. To these appeals we respond in numbers and enthusiasm that shame our response to the simple appeal of the gospel.
b. This is not to decry the place and power of sentiment in our lives; but when we let human sentiment become a more powerful force in our church life than our love for and loyalty to Christ, we are not putting Christ first; we are not letting Him be the Head of His church.

C. When in the church we put the interests and claims of the world ahead of Christ, we dishonor Him as Head.

1. The world's interests do have some claim upon us, but not first claim (Matt. 6:33). Christ's claims are first always.

a. Yet the hue and cry of the majority of our church members is, "Don't you know I've got to make a living?" What they are really saying is, "I am only in this world on a business trip. If a can find a little time to spare, I will use it to serve the Lord."
b. To a man who put a worldly claim first, Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62b).

D. When in the church we put the desire to please people ahead of the desire to please Christ, we dishonor Him as Head.

1. Genuine harmony in a church is a vital necessity. Paul tells the Thessalonians, "Be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thess. 5:13b).

a. Yet there is a spurious, superficial sort of harmony in the church, bought at the expense of pleasing men instead of Christ, that doesn't mean a thing except the defeat of the highest purposes of the gospel.
b. Some in the church are childish in their emotions. Their feelings will be hurt anyway.
c. In Christ's church we are not to be slappers of backs and dispensers of sugar sticks. We are to serve the interests of Christ.


Christ is the supreme Ruler of His church on earth. No one else is or could be. Since His authority is supreme, since His church is answerable only to Him, three inescapable implications follow.

A. A New Testament church must be a pure democracy, a democratic body.

1. This is inescapable. Answerable only to Christ, who is the Head, every member must be equal in rank, privilege, and power with every other member. This doesn't commend, it condemns orders in the ministry.

a. Jesus said,"... one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:8b ASV). There are no One official boards in a church, nor could there be.
b. There can be no ruling person or group either within a church or without.

B. A New Testament church must be independent and selfsufficient.

1. Since Christ is the Head of the church, the doctrine of the autonomy of the local church not only makes sense, it is necessary,

a. Since churches owe their supreme and undivided allegiance to Christ, they could not accept rule from one another or any other earthly rule of any sort. If Christ is the Head of His church, no one else can be.
b. This denies all ecclesiastical systems that would substitute the rule of man for the rule of Christ,
c. This denies that the church could be subservient to or united in any way with the state.
d. The sphere of the church is entirely spiritual and answerable only to Christ.

C. New Testament churches, though independent of one another, must cooperate with one another in Christ's program.

1. Since Christ is Head of the church, He is Head of every local New Testament church. He has a program. He can direct these churches in that program,

a. The churches working together under the leadership of Christ, the Head, do not surrender their sovereign rights in cooperating with one another; they exercise them,
b. The whole program, therefore, both within and among the churches, ought to be characterized by harmony, unity, and purpose.


A. Just as the human body is helpless and lifeless apart from the head, so the church is helpless and lifeless apart from Christ.

1. The last night before His crucifixion, Jesus gently warned His disciples, "Apart from me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5b, ASV).
2. Do we not devise and promote and try to carry on programs that are of men and not of Christ? In our modern day we speak of "the program of the church." But apart from Christ the church has no program and no power to conceive of to execute a program. The church is completely dependent upon Him.


How can this text, this message, strike home in our hearts? "He is the head of the body, the church." The body is composed of members. He must be the Head of every member of the body. Let each one of us ask himself: "Are His interests primary in my life? Is His rule over me complete? Is my faith in Him implicit?


Progress of the Church

Be aware that according to the July 1997 issue of Focus on the Family magazine, Baby Boomers expect six things in a church: good music, social groups, big meeting rooms, a quality kitchen, ample parking, and clean restrooms. These six amenities are the initial attractions. The work of the wise pastor begins here.